News / Africa

Locally-Produced Fuel at Zimbabwe's Pumps

TEXT SIZE - +

Fuel blended with 10 percent locally-made and eco-friendly ethanol went on sale in Zimbabwe's capital this week, at a lower cost than fuel that is fully imported.  The project, which is possibly Africa’s largest eco-project to date, has created more jobs in Zimbabwe than any other in the last 20 years.  It was also the brainchild of businessman Billy Rautenbach, who is the target of European Union and U.S. sanctions.

So far 7,000 hectares of sugar cane has been planted in southern and eastern Zimbabwe.  The harvest is being fed into a huge new refinery nearby which produces ethanol.

The plant, run by a company called Green Fuel, is set to pump out about 10 percent of Zimbabwe’s fuel needs within the next few months.

For motorists this is a boon, as fuel blended with ethanol -- now available at some pumps in Harare -- is cheaper than fully imported traditional fuel.

Consumers were filling up this week in Harare. "We have been waiting very much for this kind of product.  Because I travel a lot and at one time I was in Brazil and we have got plenty of land around here so what is important is utilizing the land, we have plenty of land. I [am] very, very happy about tha," one consumer state.

Lilian Muungani, the public relations officer for Green Fuel, said the project began two years ago when private agricultural companies signed a deal with the state land company, the Agriculture Rural Development Authority, to take over and rehabilitate its collapsed sugar cane estates.  In the process, a massive reconstruction and expansion of irrigation systems was undertaken.

The refinery was partly imported from Brazil, with bits of it manufactured in Harare and a team of experts from Brazil and Mauritius overseeing the project.

Green Fuel says it plans to plant and irrigate at least 50,000 hectares of sugar cane to produce two million liters of ethanol a day.

A garage owner in Harare, Norias Chibeke, said people had quickly bought out the first delivery of the blend of unleaded fuel and 10 percent ethanol. "Most of the motorists were eager to know how it works. So they are saying we want to see how it goes.  We received about 10,000 [liters] and we sold it in one-and-a-half days because the price was good for them.  The unleaded we are selling at 1.42 a liter and the blend we are selling at 1.36.”

The company says Billy Rautenbach is the “brains” behind the vast project, which has provided 4,500 jobs so far in a poverty-stricken part of the country.

Rautenbach says he cannot be part of the company because he is on the E.U. and U.S. sanctions lists and any stake he might hold would put the project at risk.

No E.U. or U.S. citizen can trade with about 120 Zimbabweans, mostly top members of President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party, plus several banks and state mining companies.  The sanctions were originally imposed because of alleged human rights abuses perpetrated by Mugabe supporters during the run-up to the 2002 presidential elections.

Criticism of ZANU-PF increased after the government displaced hundreds of thousands of urban people in Harare in 2005.

Green Fuel says no one has been displaced by this project, which is also supplying irrigation for the first time to peasant farmers working in dry areas around the sugar cane fields.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid